OFMdFM: Political leadership, what’s that then?

So where’s big politics in all of this flegs crisis. Answer: It is getting smaller and less apparent every day that passes. So far OFMdFM have issued two statements. The first was as follows:

The First Minister Rt Hon Peter D. Robinson MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA have this evening spoken to the Speaker of the Assembly to ask him to bring forward the Plenary sitting of the Assembly on Monday 10 December in order to discuss an agreed motion in relation to recent disturbances.”

And the second…

“We recognise and support the right to peaceful protest but the way forward is through dialogue.

“The current protests are damaging Christmas trade and the local economy as well as disrupting peoples’ daily lives.

“An absence of street protests would provide the space to allow us all to work together to find an agreed solution.”

Which from two parties which have failed in five years of promising a new Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy [And let’s not even talk about anti poverty – Ed] will translate to too many as, ‘erm trust us? We’ll have a cup of tea, a chat, and… well, you never know…”

Less whimsically, the problem is that having played all its political cards, the political institutions seem to have nothing left to play on this one, other than to complain about why the cops can’t just arrest people the way they did in Ardoyne (of which more, but later)…

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  • David Crookes

    Mick, the DFM can’t be a player in this particular game, so all the ‘big politics’ has to be played by polticians on the unionist side. What the last fortnight has shown up is that there are no big men or women on the unionist side. Statements of disapproval are useless. The only thing that thugs respect is force. All is not yet lost. The FM will gain a lot of respect if he publicly encourages the PSNI to clear our streets, by force if necessary.

    The beast of unBritish lawlessness that is presently wrecking our country is more than a hundred years old. No unionist politician has ever yet stood up to it and won. If PR stands up to it and wins, he will be rewarded by a handsome victory in the next election.

  • “will translate to too many as, ‘erm trust us? We’ll have a cup of tea, a chat, and… well, you never know…””

    I would spin it differently. I think the second statement is a decent attempt to take some of the heat out of the protests.

    IMO the difficulties continue to flow from the 1998 constitutional settlement and the narrowing gap between the two aspirations, as reflected in election after election, makes a workable CSI strategy less and less likely.

    Peter’s shared society is set in a UK context, Martin’s in a UI one. They’re not standing shoulder-to-shoulder but face-to-face.

  • BarneyT

    Of course many will say, “Had this been a nationalist dispute, there would have been more than the odd water canon on the street”…which may be true. But, it’s possible that a low PSNI profile might allow these protests to peter out..especially combined with a wee dip in the weather…especially combined with a wee dip in the weather and the use of water cannon. SF are being mightily quiet.
    None of the unionists can handle this one and that includes those closer to classic working class Protestants. The unionist councillors played this one particularly poorly through their participation in the vote in the first place. They now want to uproot democracy.

    There are inconsistent messages from the politicians which only serve to confuse and as a consequence justify the street presence

    I don’t think those on Sandy Row or anywhere else for that matter give a hoot about Christmas trade and the disruption of people daily lives? “Boo Hoo” is the likely response. That statement from the hill is very weak and watery indeed.

    SF should be making moves now to reinstall the British Flag and introduce the Irish flag in support of a dual and shared society, backed up by recent census stats.

  • Mick Fealty

    CSI might be a sign they actually can get beyond #flegs themselves?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Denying PROTESTants the ‘Right to Protest’ would not only be tyranical clamp down on a human right to all but it would also be sectarian, heck the CNR community representative in OFMDFM, Martin McGuinness has acknowledged that.

    The problem will be fixed when we can speak in verbs not clever adjectives.

  • son of sam

    I note from today’s Irish News that “Millions of pounds of funding for loyalist and republican ex-prisoners groups have been signed off by OFM/DFM” Reassuring to know that Martin and Peter have their priorities right !!

  • BarneyT

    Future Physicist – Its not about denying protestants, reformists or any other religious sect their rights as individuals. Not at all.

    Protest turns into a different beast when roads are blocked, missiles are hurled and police are attacked. When the protest turns into a show of strength it demonstrates a willingness to intimidate and restate the law.

    Had someone elected to gradually and safely pass through the blockade, I imagine they would have been “protested” to death.

    The politicians should be down there with the police clearing the “protesters”, showing leadership so they ensure normal business can resume and the debate can move into a different form of “dialogue”. They would however need the respect from these communities which I seriously doubt they have.

    As an earlier article noted, the loyalist working class need to politicise and gain representation on the councils and assembly to ensure adequate and timely protest is possible i.e. when motions are tabled.

    A loyalist voice in a governing forum could have perhaps help secure an abstention from the other unionist elements of the council and ensured this issue was awarded sufficient floor time in the appropriate venue. Instead the DUP and UUP entered into the democratic process lost the motion, didn’t like the result and then threw their toys out of the pram….perhaps as a self serving gesture.

  • David Crookes[12.50]
    Even if Robinson had it in him to tell the police to clear the streets by force [and it’s unlikely he woulsd risk votes of the sizeable chunk of diehard bigots who vote DUP] it’s far from clear they would given that the majority of PSNI officers see the rioters in this case, as their people, so would never do that. Now if it was announced that the Paras were going in, the streets would clear in seconds.

  • BarneyT

    Interesting one there DM…a debate all of its own….it would be bit of a head feck if the paras piled out of the back of a Saracen to be greeted with an “enemy” wielding…. union jacks!!!

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, danielsmoran and BarneyT. It will strengthen the PSNI enormously if they are seen to treat usuns and themuns with equal rigour.

    The people who have tormented us for the last fortnight are indeed enemies: and the softly-softly policy has been as much use as a peace rally.

    Maybe we need an unpaid 50-50 Special Constabulary, recruited from local sports clubs.

  • BarneyT It would but the heads of which side would be most fecked exactly? It was suggested at the Saville Inquiry that the paras who were sent to Derry on Bloody Sunday had previously been in different companies and were regarded as troublemakers, who were then dumped into one company as a rabble. It could be that the ancestors of those planted here by Elisabeth the First were judged similarly as rabble wholly dispensibe and effectively ‘transported’ here, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ as it were. Abit like what the city of Amsterdam are now apparently doing with their antisocial rejects from council housing.

  • should read ‘….ancesters of those rioting now, who were,…..’

  • SK

    Interesting report on UTV just now. The UUP monkey, sat next to his DUP organ grinder, was intimating that the manner in which the First Minister is nominated at Stormont will be firmly on the agenda whenever he has his upcoming meetings with loyalists.

    Evidently democracy is as unacceptable in Stormont as it is in Belfast City Council.


    The question I would ask is “Has the Northern Ireland Government lost control?”

    I am not suggesting that the answer is yes but the Executive now appears to be a peripheral figure as regards what is happening. I understood that Peter R was the First Minister for Northern Ireland and that Martin McG was Deputy First Minister for Northern Ireland – a kind of joint Prime Ministerial office and exactly the office which one would expect to take the lead in times of a social and economic crisis. However Peter appears now to have conceded defeat on behalf of the Executive and has instead devolved responsibility for resolving the crisis to some half assed wholly undemocratic Unionist Forum with Mike Nesbitt as his ridiculous looking puppy dog deputy. Another desperate and ultimately deceitful attempt to persuade the unionist mob that the pie in the sky of 1912 or 1921 or 1964 is still there awaiting them if only they’ll vote DUP next time (let’s face it, who is going to vote for Mike Nesbitt?). Meanwhile Martin appears to have gone missing. Come back Terence all is forgiven.

  • Mick Fealty

    They’re just expanding the price of return to ‘normal’ politics…

  • notnowjohn ‘Has the N Ireland government lost control?’

    That implies they ever had control of anything worth talking about. Perhaps it was more a case of quietly surrendering control after having lit the match that set the mob off, Peter retired behind the parapet in the tradion of DUP leaders in the past.

  • Bishops Finger

    Now if it was announced that the Paras were going in, the streets would clear in seconds.
    The Aldershot Mutiny—–naaah, doesn’t roll of the tongue like the Curragh.

  • David Crookes

    The whole idea of another grand unionist coalition of elected persons, unelected persons, persons of influence, and interested parties ABSOLUTELY STINKS.

    Paramilitary unionist parties fought in elections, and lost spectacularly. Get over it.

    Do troublemaking people in certain parts of the province feel unrepresented? Boo hoo. At the moment most law-abiding people in the country feel unrepresented. They can’t be sure of getting home from work.

    Here is the trouble with some of our politicians They have made so many alliances with lawbreakers in the past that lawbreaking is now part of their DNA.

    Crush the lawbreakers. Don’t invite them to join you in your nest, because they’ll foul it. That’s the only action of which they are capable.

    Crush them.

  • BarneyT

    DanielsM – I was thinking more from the perspective of the para. Would it accurately compute for them if they were faced with a mob waiving their (the paras) flag. Then again the paras like a fight no matter who its with.

    NotNowJohn – Martin is indeed very quiet.

  • BarneyT

    Ok, let’s run with the notion that the protests escalated (I am aware they appear to be calming) and British soldiers have been deployed, however unlikely.

    I am inclined to think the loyalists would have more of a sense of ownership of the British Army (given obvious allegiance) and therefore be more inclined to stand their ground and confront.

    I am not sure there would be any running away to be frank. Certainly not immediately.

  • Nevin at 18 December 2012 at 12:56 pm said:

    “Peter’s shared society is set in a UK context, Martin’s in a UI one. They’re not standing shoulder-to-shoulder but face-to-face.”

    I have heard of distorting definitions but that really takes the buscuit. The trouble is, those viewpoints are probably what those two politicians want to believe.

    What I would like to see is some injection of reality from politicians about what is practically possible. When you break it down, a genuine shared future in Northern Ireland can not exist without considerable movement towards a shared identity.

    Robbo and Marty will never admit that, of course, for obvious reasons. The Alliance party should be raising this point again and again and again and turning up the volume.